Brigham City History Project opens wiki for cloud-sourcing help

Dec 29 2013 - 10:46pm

Images

The three-story edifice is the original 1907 building stage of the first Box Elder High School at 500 East and Forest Street which grew to four times the size seen here in numerous building stages before it was torn down in the mid-1960s. The site is now occupied by the Box Elder Middle School. (Source/contributor: Brigham City History Project)
An 1880s shot of Compton Studios on Main Street near 100 South. Three generations of families ran the studio resulting in hundreds of photos donated to Utah State University. A collection of 60 of the Comptons' aging prints are now on display through mid-January in the Brigham City Museum of Art and History. (Source/contributor: Brigham City History Project)
The three-story edifice is the original 1907 building stage of the first Box Elder High School at 500 East and Forest Street which grew to four times the size seen here in numerous building stages before it was torn down in the mid-1960s. The site is now occupied by the Box Elder Middle School. (Source/contributor: Brigham City History Project)
An 1880s shot of Compton Studios on Main Street near 100 South. Three generations of families ran the studio resulting in hundreds of photos donated to Utah State University. A collection of 60 of the Comptons' aging prints are now on display through mid-January in the Brigham City Museum of Art and History. (Source/contributor: Brigham City History Project)

BRIGHAM CITY -- Trolley car days on Main Street. Helping build Hoover Dam. Prophet buried in the city cemetery.

History abounds for this county seat, for a town this small-town but full of people who cling to their records and letters, documents and photographs. Detail currently being digitized.

All soon to become: Brigham City -- The Book.

The working title is the Brigham City History Project, or http://www.brighamcityhistory.org/wiki, in cloud-sourcing terms. And the city's year-old History Task Force would like to hear from you if you know anything about the last 150 years of so of what's gone on in Box Elder County.

They've set up a web page on Wikipedia to collect and catalog the decades of info that is gathering, and for people to post what they know.

Just switched it on Tuesday to allow registration, and uploading.

"I don't know of other municipalities trying to do anything very similar," said Kaia (pronounced as in pie-uh) Landon, director of the Brigham City Museum of Art and History, who heads the task force, the city employee spearhead of the city-sanctioned but otherwise volunteer effort.

"The idea with the wiki is to open it up for people to edit and add to," she said, hoping they will contribute family histories, also of businesses, clubs, places, events, personalities, etc.

Task force members will sift and evaluate the material, augmenting their own searches underway a year now.

Or more than 50, depending how you look at it.  

"She's letting me quote myself," laughed Sara Yates, task force member, speaking of Landon.

Yates spent 40 years with the local weekly newspaper, the Box Elder News & Journal, the last eight as managing editor before retiring in 1999. Yates is going through the myriad of news stories she wrote over the decades to add footnotes. Currently she's busily writing up rail history.

"There was a trolley car that ran on Main Street until about 1920," she said. And another, or the same one, may have covered Forest Street, the major road bisecting Main, from 1914 to 1919.

An electric railcar system, a little more involved than a trolley, ran along 5th West for years, possibly until 1947, and appears to have stretched from Preston, Idaho, to Ogden, she said.

Another electric train, "definitely not diesel," Yates said, ran up 3rd South to the foothills east of town to haul quarried gravel and stone in the 1930s that eventually ended up in the mammoth Hoover Dam, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Likely the dominant edifice in Brigham City history, since the town lacked an LDS temple until recently, is Box Elder High School.

Which is where task force member David Morrell comes in. Morrell is a retired accountant who spent 36 years as the business administrator for the Box Elder School District. 

"If you want to know anything at all about Box Elder High School --  (for instance) who was in the school play in 1927? -- ask David Morrell," said Yates.

He shifts the acclaim to Jane Gomez, secretary at the school for 40 years, in pulling records of such things as all the valedictorians and student officers.

"We've been able to gather together so many things that we can't get into the book, we have to cut so much to fit the book," Morrell said. "But with the Wikipedia page, it should all be preserved."

The book is being organized in three phases, he said: 1851 to 1900, 1900 to 1950 and 1950 to the present. "The first 50 years was pretty much all LDS History," he noted, the town founded by Lorenzo Snow, an early apostle in the LDS Church, settlers of Utah. "Then of course you'd have polygamy."

Snow lived 40 years in Brigham, Morrell said, and was buried here in 1901 after serving three years as president "prophet, seer and revelator" of the then-fledgling religion.

The town hit a period of slow, almost no, growth from 1900 to 1950, staying at around 6,000 souls before experiencing rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s, Morrell said.

The boom took the town to its current roughly 18,000 head count with the Thiokol aerospace company and the Intermountain Indian School fueling expansion.

To chronicle that, Morrell is bracing for his next challenge -- examining meeting minutes of Brigham City Council meetings dating back to 1875. "I'm going to try," he said.

Task force member Kathleen Bradford has been distracted of late working on histories connected with the newly opened Brigham City LDS Temple. But for the city book she has collected hundreds of oral histories -- detailed interviews of Brighamites -- beginning with WWII veterans. 

Landon said various wish lists will be posted on the web page, specific photos or information, plus other items as needed, like old phone books from 1955 forward. "They are so helpful for establishing what was where and when," she said.

The task force could also use the assistance of volunteers, she said, "Yes, please," particularly an intern to handle registration of contributors and coordination of the wiki page. Technology experience preferred, flexible hours, but a minimum of four hours a week, college credit available. Contact Landon at the museum, 24 North 300 West, (435)226-1439.

When will the book come out?

"No idea," Yates quipped.

"The goal is to finish the book up in 2014, although it will probably be toward the end," Landon said. "We still have most of the last half of the 20th century to write." 

Contact reporter Tim Gurrister at 801-625-4238, tgurrister@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @tgurrister.

Related links:

http://www.brighamcityhistory.org/wiki.

http://www.brighamcitymuseum.org

From Around the Web

  +